Research carried out by uSwitch has revealed that energy price hikes have resulted in 78% of consumers being worried about their energy bills this winter.
Recently announced price hikes mean the average household can now expect to pay £1,434 a year, although that figure is expected to rise to close to £1,500 once each of the big six energy suppliers have raised their bills.
At present, E.ON and EDF are the only two of the big six which have not raised their prices in the run up to winter, however, industry experts expect them to do so.
Energy costs are top worry
Gas and electricity expenses were picked as the number one household concern and were singled out by 90% of respondents. In contrast, 75% highlighted the rising cost of food, 66% petrol prices and 49% council tax payments.
In addition, four in 10 respondents said they had been forced into debt to cover their household expenses. Close to one-fifth of these are concerned about how they will pay off this debt.
Last year 69% of homes went without heating at some point, to keep costs down. This information is a particular concern as the government recently issued a report urging homes to keep the heating on.
Simplified energy deals make it easier to ‘switch to the best tariffs’
Greg Barker, energy and climate change minister, said: “We are determined to do even more to help hard working people with the cost of rising energy bills. That is why we are going further than any government before in simplifying energy tariffs to enable consumers to switch to the best tariffs to suit their needs.
“This comes on top of moves to give Ofgem new powers to crack down on any rogue switching sites, and to ensure when energy suppliers break the rules, customers can now be directly compensated.”
‘Government has got to get competition working’
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: “When it comes to affordable energy the country is at crisis point. Consumers are being forced to turn down and switch off in an attempt to shield themselves from the impact of higher fuel bills. This winter we will be seeing even more going without adequate heating for fear of racking up a bill they cannot afford – this is the grim reality for many households in Britain today. The Government has got to get competition working as this is the only way we will get to see fairer pricing, better service and people getting better deals.
“With four major suppliers having already announced price hikes, consumers face a perfect storm. Political hot air and rhetoric won’t heat homes – families have to take action and give themselves a price freeze instead. Rather than resorting to drastic and potentially harmful measures, I would urge them to ‘future-proof’ their energy bills this winter by signing up to one of the many competitive fixed price energy tariffs that are on the market. These don’t just offer a competitive price today, but can protect from price hikes for anything up to four winters too.
“Energy efficiency is also a key weapon – making sure that your home is insulated, draught-proof and using as little energy as possible will automatically help reduce your bills. Those who need help understanding what energy efficiency measures to introduce, or with financing it, should look at the Government’s Green Deal. These steps could make the difference in keeping warm this winter.”